Mission and History
While the number of women earning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) doctoral degrees has increased over the past two decades in the United States, women, especially women of color, continue to be significantly underrepresented in STEM academic positions. Moreover, their advancement to senior professorial ranks and leadership roles lags behind men’s. This underrepresentation of women is a critical issue for the nation as the need to develop a globally competitive and diverse workforce increases.
The National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program is aimed at increasing not only the representation but also the advancement of women in academic STEM careers through systemic change. This federal investment in ADVANCE programs demonstrates that diversity is a nationally recognized value.
In 2014, the University of Delaware received a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to effect large-scale comprehensive change and serve as a locus for research on gender equity and institutional transformation for academic STEM.
Between 2008 and 2013, UD held an ADVANCE PAID (Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination) grant jointly between the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences. Two workshops were developed under this program and held annually: (1) Best Practices in Faculty Recruitment, aimed toward faculty search committee members; and (2) Mentoring the Mentors, aimed toward senior faculty assigned as procedural mentors to junior faculty. This grant laid the groundwork for more comprehensive and effective strategies to be developed and left a measurable impact: Following the workshops, the number of women hires more than doubled in targeted departments; no pre-tenure women faculty left the ADVANCE-supported STEM departments; and promotion rates were higher.